Allan Kitching was born in Darlington , England in 1940. His interest in typography and printing was sparked when he discovered a flat bed Adana press in the art room at his school. He had access to one type face 8pt and 10pt Gill Sans Medium and with these limited materials designed and produced carol sheets for the school concerts, flyers and notices.
After a narrow escape from a good solid trade and security for life with British Rail he went into the print trade working for a commercial typesetter and printer. The smell , the tactile qualities, everything about the work appealed to his sensitivities. This was where his heart was but he soon outgrew this position and moved to begin a six year apprenticeship to become a compositor.
During this period his talents were recognised by his Boss and he was given the freedom to completely reorganise the composing room and experiment with new forms of layout. His early inspiration was sparked by an article by Jan Tschichold that he read in Printing Britain.
In 1963 he took the post of Print Technician at Watford College of Technology. He was still searching for a way to express his creativity and the opportunity for this arose when Anthony Froshaug became head of the design school. Froshaug’s book Typographic Norms made a deep impression on him and Kitching and Froshaug settled into a solid working relationship. This creative awakening was further strengthened with the friendships and influence of Diter Rot and Hansjorg Mayer, both men from fine art backgrounds. Kitching describes them as ,off the wall ,but their influence on him gave him a freer, more expressive approach to his profession.
Due to his rare typographical and printing skills Kitchings reputation grew and he began to take on freelance work. Colin Forbes , a founder of Pentagram, would use Kitching on various complex projects.
As the digital age began he amassed what’s probably the largest collection of wood type and metal type in Europe, a far cry from his beginnings with only Gill Sans Medium as a school boy in Darlington. About his early career he says that there was only red and black ink, that this was all we had to work with. His work now is vibrant in colour, multi-layered and textured. Through his many commissions he says that he pushes it a little bit further all the time and sees his working life as a slow progression
Kitching describes himself as a Typographic Print Maker. He works now mainly on limited edition small run prints, usually no more than forty in a run and his enthusiasm for letter press technique is still unwavering. Though he is a designer preserving and using techniques six hundred years old he is always asking himself, how do I make something new out of the old?
Meggs’ History of Graphic Design, Fifth Edition. Philip B. Meggs and Alston W. Purvis. Published by John Wiley and Sons, Inc.